4 Major Components Present in all Effective Emails

September 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Email Marketing

A staple in any customer retention program is the ability to write emails that strengthen relationships, get responses, and persuade action. Not enough attention is often paid to this critical component of building a business (and when attention is given to it, I too frequently see it performed incorrectly.) As such I am going to cover a number of topics spread over a series of articles that will help you develop more effective email follow-up campaigns.

The first thing you have to do in building an effective email follow-up program is to determine your desired outcome of each email (you can’t build an effective email if you don’t know what you want to achieve from it.)

Depending on your desired outcome a response could be any number of things. Overall though, emails have three primary roles.

  1. Build Relationships: All email programs should build a stronger relationship with your customer and seek to enhance your brand in their eyes.
  2. Get Responses: Example- respond to surveys, questions, feedback, etc…
  3. Persuade Action: Example- clicking a link in the email.

No matter your intention, an email should aim for the following actions at a minimum and in the following order:

  1. Get attention (interest)
  2. Get the open
  3. Get the action (response, click, etc…)

In other words, the job of an email is to first get the attention of the recipient, second to persuade them to open the email, then finally get them to act upon something in the email by clicking (typically back to your site.)

It goes without saying you can’t get the open if you don’t get their attention and you can’t get the click if you don’t get them to open it.

Now, having said that, how to you maximize the opportunity for achieving the three desired actions above (interest, open, action?)

To do this you need to understand that there are 4 basic components which all emails are made up of.

The 4 Components Present in Effective Emails

  1. From Name
  2. Subject Line
  3. Email Content (body)
  4. Call to Action

Of course every email should have an opt out option etc… but that is for another article and I will not go into detail on it here.

To achieve the first two actions (i.e. interest, open) you must develop an effective subject line. Make it short, sweet, and intriguing. Let’s say you are running a limited time fall promotion for some product you sell.

The Subject Line

A good subject line might be:

Get 50% Off. 5 Days Only. Details Inside …

A less powerful subject line might be:

Fall Into Savings for a Limited Time!

The first subject line clearly states the offer and then ends with a subtle call to action (details inside) followed by an ellipsis (or hellip)—An ellipsis is a three-dot symbol used to show an incomplete statement. Ellipses are used in on-screen menus to convey that there is more to come. (…)

The From Line

The from line should be the name of your business or website to be most effective. Why? It is your business or website that they are transacting with and using it in the “from” line will help trigger brand awareness which will answer at least one major question they will ask when they receive the email—”who sent me this email?”

The answer to that question combined with the subject line easily tells them what the offer is and who it is from. They need to know this so trust is built and any hesitation to open the email based on security is removed from the equation.

Ok, you have now accomplished the first objective and let’s say the open the email. What next?

Well you now need to make sure at least two basic things are present to get the next action (which is the click in our example.)

The Content
Your email body (the text, images etc…) needs to reinforce the offer and provide details on it. Don’t go into your whole life story and write a book here. Keep it simple, state the benefits to the customer, stick to the facts, and then provide a call to action (or two).

Remember, people are overwhelmed by emails and they aren’t going to spend a ton of time reading so get to the point and make it compelling. Give them a reason to take action and then most importantly, ask for the action! It does you no good to develop a super email, get it opened, and forget to give them ways to perform the final action.

Many people just need a good prompt to get it done and this is what is referred to as the “call to action”.

The Call to Action

Calls to action ask the reader to do something. They are things like “Shop Now!”, “Learn More”, “Click for Details”, “Go Shopping”, “Add to Cart”, etc…

Provide your reader with a number of ways to get back to your site including hyperlinks to your domain, to the product(s) you are promoting, and a few good “calls to action” like listed here.

The call to action should also reflect what your intention is for them. If you want them to “Start Shopping” then tell them that. If you want them to “Complete the Survey” then tell them that. Don’t assume they will do it just because you present it to them—ask them to do it.

Those are the basic components of what makeup all emails and how you can use them to develop an effective email that get the three desired actions completed—Get Interest, Get Opened, Get the Action.

I’ll be going into more details you should consider for developing effective email follow-up campaigns in upcoming articles. This is a good place to start.

Before You Create Your Facebook Page: Is your Name or Material Copyrighted or Trademarked?

September 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Social Media

Do you own the copyright or trademark to your site’s name?

Make sure you do before you create your Facebook Fan Page or else you may be at risk for losing your page.

Facebook takes its Intellectual Property and Copyright policy very seriously. Anyone from your biggest rival to an unhappy customer can submit a claim that you’ve violated Intellectual Property and have your page taken down.

It sounds sinister, but it’s true.

If you’ve created a Facebook page, be sure to check out Facebook’s Policy on Intellectual Property and Copyright available at http://www.facebook.com/legal/copyright.php.

If a user believes your Fan Page name – or your site’s name – infringes on their copyright or intellectual copyright, they can complete a DMCA notice after which your Facebook Fan Page can (and might) be taken down. If this happens, you will lose all fan page members and a means to communicate with them. Unless you are a repeat offender, your personal page should not be affected.

How can you be sure Fan Page isn’t taken down?

Due Dilligence.

Be sure you own the copyright or trademark to your site’s name. If your page is marked as one to be taken down, the folks at Facebook will contact you and you have the right to contest the removal. Proving you own the copyright should be enough proof for Facebook to reinstate your page.

However, if you do not own the copyright or trademark (or are in the process), you’ll need to find an alternative means to promote yourself online.

It should be noted as well that these same policies work if you feel someone is violating your copyright or trademark. You too can submit a report an have someone’s page taken down.

Good E-Commerce Social Media Integration

September 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Social Media

We’re going to revisit 1-800-FLOWERS.com’s Facebook example to further illustrate how the e-commerce site has integrated Facebook and other social media sites to communicate with its past, present and (hopefully) future customers.

You can see from their Facebook Wall Page that 1-800-FLOWERS.com includes both its website URL as well as its Twitter address right at the top of the page. This is a great idea if you fans or visitors that use both Facebook and Twitter. It also shows that you’re not just limited to one form of social media communication.

1800 Flowers Facebook Wall Page
1 800 Flowers Facebook Wall Page

Notice the top wall post on this screen shot. The article link with supporting text is a great way highlight an exciting sale or promotion taking place on the actual site. Social media users will not stand for e-commerce sites only pushing sales down their throat. If you want to secure a sale, try throwing a dose of human spirit into your posts and not a repetetive “Buy my product now!”. Take a second to also notice how the site didn’t leave its Fan’s “Hey Everyone” post on its own. They’re showing some care and human interaction by responding back even if that’s the only response.

1-800-FLOWERS.com is good to include its Twitter address on its Facebook page and does a great job of interacting with customers on its Twitter page.

1800 Flowers Twitter Page
1 800 Flowers Twitter Page

Again, human interaction is key here. The folks at 1-800-FLOWERS are right on with their fun and appreciative twitter responses. There are very useful Twitter tools available that allow you to keep track of when your Twitter name is being used or written about which is a great way to interact. Imagine what those consumers feel like when they see that their post was heard by the folks at the site they purchased from. You’re almost as good as sold for their next purchase.

Another best practice worth pointing out here is that not every Tweet needs to fill all 140 characters. Notice how some Tweets are as simple as “That’s Fab! Spread the Word Please :-)” while some include a condolence and thank you for purchasing from the site. A great way to keep your consumers engaged with you and your site can be seen near the top, where a giveaway winner was highlighted and others were instructed to stay tuned for more at a future time.

1-800-FLOWERS.com does a good job of pulling its social media all together by including a link to its Facebook Fan Page right on the front of the site.

1800 Flowers Home Page
1 800 Flowers Home Page

While not every e-commerce consumer uses these social media tools, those that do will appreciate the social media savvy.

While 1-800-FLOWERS.com does a good job of integrating its social media, there are two things I noticed about their social media use that I would add or change:

  1. Include a link to Twitter on the home page. Avid social media users will appreciate that they can find the site on multiple platforms.
  2. Take down the link to the blog our update it with a current link. The blog link found on the Facebook Information leads to a dead blog that appears to no longer be in service.

Have you found examples of good e-commerce social media integration? Be sure to share them in the comments below.